December 28 – Cold, Cruel, Beautiful

I am looking out my home office window and watching in fascinated horror as a Northern Goshawk rips off feathers and pulls out bloody morsels from one of the male Mallards that was just minutes ago eating grain in our snowy backyard. I am trying to see it from the Goshawk’s point of view as I watch the terrible, riveting sight. For almost an hour, the Goshawk has feasted, twice spreading its wings to mantle the duck as a raven flew over, and then a few Mallards actually came down for a few seconds before they saw the Goshawk and fled in terror. The Goshawk flew away when I went outside, and immediately four Common Ravens circled low, looking for leftovers, but I bagged the remains so I could let our dog go out in the yard. Maybe at least for tonight I’ll have a completely vegetarian meal. This is the way Nature is, but oh my goodness, it’s hard to take when it’s so up close and personal!

The pictures below are a small sampling of the zillions of pictures that I took, with the last sets of photos taken through the outside steps because the Goshawk had moved the prey to a different location from the initial kill site.


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December 24 – Merry Christmas from snowy, cold, beautiful Anchorage

The title says it all, but I’ll illustrate with a few photos taken from inside our house –

The snow –



The cold (the time on this readout is not our local Anchorage time, but some meteorological reference, GMT, I believe, entered by Dave)-

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The beauty, with a nearly full moon through the branches west of our house and the pink skies east of our house this morning –



I wish everyone the best for this holiday season!



December 15 – Christmas Bird Count, Anchorage

Today was the Anchorage CBC. Due to the short days, a full day of birding was about 5-plus hours. The temperature was just below 20 degrees, and there was little wind, so it was a very pleasant though mostly cloudy day to be birding. My assigned area, as for the past couple of years, was along Chester Creek and nearby neighborhoods. Most of my day was spent walking on the newly snow-covered trail along the creek. Most of the birds seen were the usual ones for the area and season, with one notable exception (see below).

Scenes from my walk follow:

Ducks seen were Mallards and a single Common Goldeneye:

Although in previous years there were multiple American Dippers in the area, I only found one of them today:

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Other birds seen by me include: Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Ravens, Black-billed Magpies, two Pine Grosbeaks, and a handful of American Robins.

The highlight birds for me, two of them, were Varied Thrushes, which no one else saw today on the count, as they are basically not known to winter here! They appeared to be a male and a female (or possibly a young bird), which were perched with robins and were not seen with each other.

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Scenes from the count-down gathering this evening are below. If you are interested in total bird counts, etc. for the complete Anchorage count circle, you will need to check the Anchorage Audubon website in days to come after everything gets officially tallied.